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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Thinking of ways to reduce our Electric Bill?

Where to start to do it with out alot of out of pocket money?

Live in NJ

Shoot me ideas where to start?

I believe our house is perfect for it.

Could put all the panels on the side not facing the street.

Back of the house gets all the afternoon sun, no trees.

House Photo's April 2013 001.JPG
 

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contact some of the solar companies in your area, you really don't want to DIY it since it will be grid tie. you need panels, regulators, inverters, batteries and most importantly permission from the POCO and any permits required.

Keep in mind that most grid tie systems will shut down with loss of commercial power! This is so they don't backfeed during an outage.


research and get every tax rebate/credit/deduction and incentive you can find. the systems are not cheap. so don't expect to save more on your electric than the monthly payment!
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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If you have grid tie you don't need batteries. You might want them anyway, for backup power; but batteries are really expensive and they just die after some years whether you use them or not [experience].

Will solar be economically viable at your location? difficult question, many variables and some unknowns [financial and weather uncertainties].

People who use stand-alone solar and/or micro wind generation and depend on battery storage use very little power; they have to or their batteries go flat [excepting those who install really massive battery blocks]. I have neighbors who do this, also friends on boats / campers.
The norm is little led lights on timers, switching off anything not in use, only using the wash machine when extra power is available [sunny day], and generally living in the dark.
If you do all that, you don't need solar panels or batteries to save money!

There are good and bad businesses of all types; ask to talk to previous satisfied customers [of course they'll cherry pick them], and check if there are any complaints lodged against them with whatever agencies do that where you live [better business administration or chamber of commerce?]. Google name + review / complaint. Ask to see some other jobs they've done.
 

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Not familiar with NJ, but here across border in NY there are several things to research:
- System need to be installed by state certified installer to get anyof the tax credits/rebates.
- make sure company is reputable. Good friend had panels installed & couple months later the company went bankrupt. Can't remember name right now. Another company took them over & picked up warranty.
- Determine if you want to lease or own. Most solar companies offer both.
- definitely no power if grid goes out. One of the major turn offs for me.
- check your roof warranty if newer roof & what damage is covered.
- also check with your insurance co. if anything special is needed.
- permits/inspections with town. Most time installer takes care of that.

We were approached by friend referred company. They said we could get almost 11 Kw. but that was facing the road (which we did not want) and at the time needed a new roof, plus they did not offer any battery storage (which I am still debating if needed).

The Mrs. is pushing for it, since several friends have done it & they are supposedly "saving" a bundle on utility bills, but I am still hesitant with technology.
 

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Some grid-tie systems use micro-inverters (M-I) rather than a long-string single inverter. Long string needs heavier cable to tie the panels together. M-Is mount on the back of the panels and if there is a failed M-I, you may need to reverse the install to get at it.

Check with your PoCo as to whether they do micro-FIT (Feed In Tariff) or net metering and what the rates are for both/either. There are different ways to tie to the grid depending on the program and the PoCo. Some use a single Bi-Directional meter, others use separate meters.
 

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Call and have them come out to do survey. There is no charge for that. We had two companies come out, both widely used in this area. Prices widely divergent. Fist one came in at $22.5 K, the second was saying we needed more panels than that and quoted us $43K. There were some significant rebates available but still a lot of coin, especially the second one. Plus neither was sure what to do with our auto whole house generator and told us they were sure it could be done. Wanted us to sign and they would send engineers over. The kicker was that then, after salesmen left and site survey guys came around, THEY turned us down, both for the same reason. You see, we don't have a conventional roof. Living in a log home we have a purlin system and they said that their systems wouldn't attach. Huh?? We had two 4 X 8 hot water panels on the roof for 27 yrs. Never fell off. Then, after some hemming and hawing both companies admitted that A) their guys had to do everything by the plan that was drawn up for the install, that to set up for us would take too much work and that the installers had to do a certain amount of sq ft per day (quota) to make it profitable for the company and it wasn't worth it for them to do any custom work. They they also said that our roof line violated the company guidelines for slope. Seems they want low pitch roofs cause they don't want workers falling off. Out roof certainly isn't a "low pitch." Guess they never heard of safety ropes.
MikeC
 

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Systems are not cheap, but they are coming down. Before you commit to standard panels, look into the new 'solar roof' systems that don't look like panels. Word is the overall cost is less, but they may not be available everywhere.

Use caution with the 'free installation' companies. They are usually some kind of long term lease and there may be costs later if you sell the house or want the system removed.

I'm not sure the Federal incentives are still in place. At one time, there was a 30% tax credit on portions, but there were some catches.

And definitely check into your power company regulations. Some have serious 'gotchas' where you pay a monthly rate even if you don't use any of their energy.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Okay , like to update where things stand now. Can't believe we started all this back in March and still we don't have any panels on the roof.

But we were going with no money out of pocket. Well almost none. :tango_face_smile_bi

We live in NJ..........We had three companies come out to the house and pitch their plan to us........Some things stuck and some sounded like BS!

We learned alot from all three of them.

WE finally went with a local company that has been in business for the last 8 years and going strong..well at least we hope so.

So the electric company in our area is called PSEG...........they have a residential and commercial program going on where they pay for 62% of your system in exchange for the the first 10 years of SREC's your system generates. They are estimating the system will make 22 SREC's a year for the first 10 years.
30% would be the current federal government tax credit.

So the solar company came out and gave us a estimate for the complete job. $55,000..........I think it's like 63 panels which will all be installed on the back of our house and garage..

Now here is the break down.

We have 2 loans.
One is a same as cash loan that will be due 12 months after the job is completed. ($50,575)

$34,075 is the check we will get from PSEG once the job is completed and we are going live.
$16,500 is the 30% tax credit we should be getting in the 2017 Income tax year.

Meaning we will have a second loan of $4425 ( a 7 year loan, paying $66 a month.) Could be paying it off that sooner if our system would happen to generate more then 22 SREC's a year.

So only out of pockets fees will be $4425 @ 6.99 % or $66 x 84 payments= $5544

This program was on last year and this year, not sure yet if it will go into the year 2018 or not.

Couple more important things in our view, we will own the system, not lease!
Plus we will be able to sleep at night not worrying about what the price of SREC's might fall too and not give us enough to pay for the loan.

Granted SREC's might go really , really high. But really we rather know it's paid for pretty much upfront then take the risk if they should bottom out after more and more people go solar.

Plus it will greatly reduce our electric bill too which was crazy high from April to October.

It's been a really, really long process in getting all the approvals, from PSEG and the Bank, Township permits..........But I do see it coming together very, very soon and think it will be well worth the wait.

Also wanted to add this is goingto be about a 19.9 kWh System
 

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Call and have them come out to do survey. There is no charge for that. We had two companies come out, both widely used in this area. Prices widely divergent. Fist one came in at $22.5 K, the second was saying we needed more panels than that and quoted us $43K. There were some significant rebates available but still a lot of coin, especially the second one. Plus neither was sure what to do with our auto whole house generator and told us they were sure it could be done. Wanted us to sign and they would send engineers over. The kicker was that then, after salesmen left and site survey guys came around, THEY turned us down, both for the same reason. You see, we don't have a conventional roof. Living in a log home we have a purlin system and they said that their systems wouldn't attach. Huh?? We had two 4 X 8 hot water panels on the roof for 27 yrs. Never fell off. Then, after some hemming and hawing both companies admitted that A) their guys had to do everything by the plan that was drawn up for the install, that to set up for us would take too much work and that the installers had to do a certain amount of sq ft per day (quota) to make it profitable for the company and it wasn't worth it for them to do any custom work. They they also said that our roof line violated the company guidelines for slope. Seems they want low pitch roofs cause they don't want workers falling off. Out roof certainly isn't a "low pitch." Guess they never heard of safety ropes.
MikeC

They really are pretty much trying to use the big box store business model.. Get in, get panels in with crews that have just enough training and get out... Anything out of the norm they don't really want to touch. We looked into it, because the wife is really interested in it. Our house has a hip roof, and a few gables sticking out... Add to that having one side covered by trees... Its a strange fit.. One company only wanted to put one small bank up, because they needed to keep them all together. That would only supply about 20% of our power needs. Another was willing to put two different banks up, but also cost a ton more, and would cover about 50% of our needs.. We have the space, and the sun, but it would be a tough install, so they pretty much walked away.
 

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Paul,
Likewise on the trees. Second, more expensive guy wanted us to have a bunch of trees cut down. Not happening so I told them to price out a freestanding and put it out in back. Lots of space, no trees to be cut. Nope! They would need building permit for freestanding and they don't want the hassle of waiting on inspectors. Can't afford any crews with downtime.
MikeC
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Th install on my house starts tomorrow (Tuesday)!
 

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Good luck! Keep us informed how the install goes and how the energy savings on the utility bill goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Install went well.................63 panels on the roof.

Final Inspections are today.
 

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Great...any pics?
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I will try to get a few over the weekend for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Here are a couple, I wanted to get more but the camera I wanted to use, the batteries were dead. They are charging now.


solar panels roof 2.jpg

solar panels roof 1.jpg
 

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How are the panels working?

Doug in central Ohio.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Very good ! During the day when the sun is out, the meter stands still. Doesn't start moving again until the sun goes down. It's amazing!

System is set up with 2 inverters, 32 panels on 1 and 31 panels on the other. They are 300 watt panels.
 

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LOL - All that power and your camera batteries were dead. Just sounded funny to me.

Seriously I'm glad the system is working well for you. Do you know how much energy is being fed back to the PoCo?
 
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